Photography is the process, activity and art of creating still or moving pictures by recording radiation on a radiation-sensitive medium, such as a photographic film, or an electronic sensor. Light patterns reflected or emitted from objects activate a sensitive chemical or electronic sensor during a timed exposure, usually through a photographic lens in a device known as a camera that also stores the resulting information chemically or electronically. Photography has many uses for business, science, art, and pleasure.
Lens and mounting of a large-format camera.
A historic camera: the Contax S of 1949 — the first pentaprism SLR.
Nikon F of 1959 — the first 35mm film system camera.
Late Production Minox B camera with later style "honeycomb" selenium light meter
A portable folding reflector positioned to "bounce" sunlight onto a model
The word "photograph" was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (photos) "light" and γραφή (graphé) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing", together meaning "drawing with light". Traditionally, the products of photography have been called negatives and photographs, commonly shortened to photos.
The camera or camera obscura is the image-forming device, and photographic film or a silicon electronic image sensor is the sensing medium. The respective recording medium can be the film itself, or a digital electronic or magnetic memory.
Photographers control the camera and lens to "expose" the light recording material (such as film) to the required amount of light to form a "latent image" (on film) or "raw file" (in digital cameras) which, after appropriate processing, is converted to a usable image. Digital cameras use an electronic image sensor based on light-sensitive electronics such as charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The resulting digital image is stored electronically, but can be reproduced on paper or film.
The movie camera is a type of photographic camera which takes a rapid sequence of photographs on strips of film. In contrast to a still camera, which captures a single snapshot at a time, the movie camera takes a series of images, each called a "frame". This is accomplished through an intermittent mechanism. The frames are later played back in a movie projector at a specific speed, called the "frame rate" (number of frames per second). While viewing, a person's eyes and brain merge the separate pictures together to create the illusion of motion.
In all but certain specialized cameras, the process of obtaining a usable exposure must involve the use, manually or automatically, of a few controls to ensure the photograph is clear, sharp and well illuminated. The controls usually include but are not limited to the following:
The adjustment to place the sharpest focus where it is desired on the subject.
Adjustment of the lens opening, measured as f-number, which controls the amount of light passing through the lens. Aperture also has an effect on depth of field and diffraction – the higher the f-number, the smaller the opening, the less light, the greater the depth of field, and the more the diffraction blur. The focal length divided by the f-number gives the effective aperture diameter.
Adjustment of the speed (often expressed either as fractions of seconds or as an angle, with mechanical shutters) of the shutter to control the amount of time during which the imaging medium is exposed to light for each exposure. Shutter speed may be used to control the amount of light striking the image plane; 'faster' shutter speeds (that is, those of shorter duration) decrease both the amount of light and the amount of image blurring from motion of the subject and/or camera.
On digital cameras, electronic compensation for the color temperature associated with a given set of lighting conditions, ensuring that white light is registered as such on the imaging chip and therefore that the colors in the frame will appear natural. On mechanical, film-based cameras, this function is served by the operator's choice of film stock or with color correction filters. In addition to using white balance to register natural coloration of the image, photographers may employ white balance to aesthetic end, for example white balancing to a blue object in order to obtain a warm color temperature.
Measurement of exposure so that highlights and shadows are exposed according to the photographer's wishes. Many modern cameras meter and set exposure automatically. Before automatic exposure, correct exposure was accomplished with the use of a separate light metering device or by the photographer's knowledge and experience of gauging correct settings. To translate the amount of light into a usable aperture and shutter speed, the meter needs to adjust for the sensitivity of the film or sensor to light. This is done by setting the "film speed" or ISO sensitivity into the meter.
Traditionally used to "tell the camera" the film speed of the selected film on film cameras, ISO speeds are employed on modern digital cameras as an indication of the system's gain from light to numerical output and to control the automatic exposure system. The higher the ISO number the greater the film sensitivity to light, whereas with a lower ISO number, the film is less sensitive to light. A correct combination of ISO speed, aperture, and shutter speed leads to an image that is neither too dark nor too light, hence it is 'correctly exposed,' indicated by a centered meter.
On some cameras, the selection of a point in the imaging frame upon which the auto-focus system will attempt to focus. Many Single-lens reflex cameras (SLR) feature multiple auto-focus points in the viewfinder.
Many other elements of the imaging device itself may have a pronounced effect on the quality and/or aesthetic effect of a given photograph; among them are:
Filters placed between the subject and the light recording material, either in front of or behind the lens
Inherent sensitivity of the medium to light intensity and color/wavelengths.
The nature of the light recording material, for example its resolution as measured in pixels or grains of silver halide.
Camera controls are inter-related. The total amount of light reaching the film plane (the "exposure") changes with the duration of exposure, aperture of the lens, and on the effective focal length of the lens (which in variable focal length lenses, can force a change in aperture as the lens is zoomed). Changing any of these controls can alter the exposure. Many cameras may be set to adjust most or all of these controls automatically. This automatic functionality is useful for occasional photographers in many situations.
The duration of an exposure is referred to as shutter speed, often even in cameras that don't have a physical shutter, and is typically measured in fractions of a second. Aperture is expressed by an f-number or f-stop (derived from focal ratio), which is proportional to the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the aperture. If the f-number is decreased by a factor of , the aperture diameter is increased by the same factor, and its area is increased by a factor of 2. The f-stops that might be found on a typical lens include 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, where going up "one stop" (using lower f-stop numbers) doubles the amount of light reaching the film, and stopping down one stop halves the amount of light.
Image capture can be achieved through various combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and film or sensor speed. Different (but related) settings of aperture and shutter speed enable photographs to be taken under various conditions of film or sensor speed, lighting and motion of subjects and/or camera, and desired depth of field. A slower speed film will exhibit less "grain", and a slower speed setting on an electronic sensor will exhibit less "noise", while higher film and sensor speeds allow for a faster shutter speed, which reduces motion blur or allows the use of a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field. For example, a wider aperture is used for lower light and a lower aperture for more light. If a subject is in motion, then a high shutter speed may be needed. A tripod can also be helpful in that it enables a slower shutter speed to be used.
For example, f/8 at 8 ms (1/125th of a second) and f/5.6 at 4 ms (1/250th of a second) yield the same amount of light. The chosen combination has an impact on the final result. The aperture and focal length of the lens determine the depth of field, which refers to the range of distances from the lens that will be in focus. A longer lens or a wider aperture will result in "shallow" depth of field (i.e. only a small plane of the image will be in sharp focus). This is often useful for isolating subjects from backgrounds as in individual portraits or macro photography. Conversely, a shorter lens, or a smaller aperture, will result in more of the image being in focus. This is generally more desirable when photographing landscapes or groups of people. With very small apertures, such as pinholes, a wide range of distance can be brought into focus, but sharpness is severely degraded by diffraction with such small apertures. Generally, the highest degree of "sharpness" is achieved at an aperture near the middle of a lens's range (for example, f/8 for a lens with available apertures of f/2.8 to f/16). However, as lens technology improves, lenses are becoming capable of making increasingly sharp images at wider apertures.
Image capture is only part of the image forming process. Regardless of material, some process must be employed to render the latent image captured by the camera into a viewable image. With slide film, the developed film is just mounted for projection. Print film requires the developed film negative to be printed onto photographic paper or transparency. Digital images may be uploaded to an image server (e.g., a photo-sharing web site), viewed on a television, or transferred to a computer or digital photo frame.
A photographer using a tripod for greater stability during long exposure
Prior to the rendering of a viewable image, modifications can be made using several controls. Many of these controls are similar to controls during image capture, while some are exclusive to the rendering process. Most printing controls have equivalent digital concepts, but some create different effects. For example, dodging and burning controls are different between digital and film processes. Other printing modifications include:
Chemicals and process used during film development
Duration of print exposure – equivalent to shutter speed
Printing aperture – equivalent to aperture, but has no effect on depth of field
Contrast – changing the visual properties of objects in an image to make them distinguishable from other objects and the background
Dodging – reduces exposure of certain print areas, resulting in lighter areas
Burning in – increases exposure of certain areas, resulting in darker areas
Paper type – resin-coated (RC) or fiber-based (FB)
Toners – used to add warm or cold tones to black and white prints
Photography gained the interest of many scientists and artists from its inception. Scientists have used photography to record and study movements, such as Eadweard Muybridge's study of human and animal locomotion in 1887. Artists are equally interested by these aspects but also try to explore avenues other than the photo-mechanical representation of reality, such as the pictorialist movement. Military, police, and security forces use photography for surveillance, recognition and data storage. Photography is used by amateurs to preserve memories of favorite times, to capture special moments, to tell stories, to send messages, and as a source of entertainment.
First known surviving heliographic engraving, made by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1825 by contact under an engraving with the "heliographic process". This seminal work was a step towards the first permanent photography from nature taken with a camera obscura, in 1826.
Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Chinese philosopher Mo Di described a pinhole camera in the 5th century B.C.E., Byzantine mathematician Anthemius of Tralles used a type of camera obscura in his experiments, Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) studied the camera obscura and pinhole camera, Albertus Magnus (1193–1280) discovered silver nitrate, and Georges Fabricius (1516–1571) discovered silver chloride. Daniel Barbaro described a diaphragm in 1568. Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect) in 1694. The fiction book Giphantie, published in 1760, by French author Tiphaigne de la Roche, described what can be interpreted as photography.
Invented in the first decades of the nineteenth century, photography (by way of the camera) seemed able to capture more detail and information than traditional mediums, such as painting and sculpting. Photography as a usable process goes back to the 1820s with the development of chemical photography. The first permanent photoetching was an image produced in 1822 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce, but it was destroyed by a later attempt to duplicate it. Niépce was successful again in 1825. He made the first permanent photograph from nature with a camera obscura in 1826. However, because his photographs took so long to expose (8 hours), he sought to find a new process. Working in conjunction with Louis Daguerre, they experimented with silver compounds based on a Johann Heinrich Schultz discovery in 1724 that a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light. Niépce died in 1833, but Daguerre continued the work, eventually culminating with the development of the daguerreotype in 1837. Daguerre took the first ever photo of a person in 1839 when, while taking a daguerreotype of a Paris street, a pedestrian stopped for a shoe shine, long enough to be captured by the long exposure (several minutes). Eventually, France agreed to pay Daguerre a pension for his formula, in exchange for his promise to announce his discovery to the world as the gift of France, which he did in 1839.
Daguerre continued work on the Daguerreotype in hopes of reducing exposure and furthering the development of photography, eventually culminating in financial discrepancies between the two men concerning Niépce's original work not being accredited by Daguerre (consider the name "Daguerreotype"). Because of these discrepancies, the two men discontinued their partnership and retired from photographical research after selling the rights to the Daguerreotype to the French government.
Mid 19th century "Brady stand" photo model's armrest table, meant to keep portrait models more still during long exposure times (studio equipment nicknamed after the famed US photographer, Mathew Brady).
Meanwhile, Hercules Florence had already created a very similar process in 1832, naming it Photographie, and William Fox Talbot had earlier discovered another means to fix a silver process image but had kept it secret. After reading about Daguerre's invention, Talbot refined his process so that portraits were made readily available to the masses. By 1840, Talbot had invented the calotype process, which creates negative images. John Herschel made many contributions to the new methods. He invented the cyanotype process, now familiar as the "blueprint". He was the first to use the terms "photography", "negative" and "positive". He discovered sodium thiosulphate solution to be a solvent of silver halides in 1819, and informed Talbot and Daguerre of his discovery in 1839 that it could be used to "fix" pictures and make them permanent. He made the first glass negative in late 1839.
In March 1851, Frederick Scott Archer published his findings in "The Chemist" on the wet plate collodion process. This became the most widely used process between 1852 and the late 1880s when the dry plate was introduced. There are three subsets to the Collodion process; the Ambrotype (positive image on glass), the Ferrotype or Tintype (positive image on metal) and the negative which was printed on Albumen or Salt paper.
Many advances in photographic glass plates and printing were made in through the nineteenth century. In 1884, George Eastman developed the technology of film to replace photographic plates, leading to the technology used by film cameras today.
In 1908 Gabriel Lippmann won the Nobel Laureate in Physics for his method of reproducing colors photographically based on the phenomenon of interference, also known as the Lippmann plate.
A filter may be used to enhance or diminish the rendering of certain light wavelengths. For this photograph, a wratten #25 was used.
All photography was originally monochrome, or black-and-white. Even after color film was readily available, black-and-white photography continued to dominate for decades, due to its lower cost and its "classic" photographic look. It is important to note that some monochromatic pictures are not always pure blacks and whites, but also contain other hues depending on the process. The cyanotype process produces an image of blue and white for example. The albumen process, first used more than 150 years ago, produces brown tones.
Many photographers continue to produce some monochrome images. Some full color digital images are processed using a variety of techniques to create black and whites, and some manufacturers produce digital cameras that exclusively shoot monochrome.
Color photography was explored beginning in the mid 1800s. Early experiments in color could not fix the photograph and prevent the color from fading. The first permanent color photo was taken in 1861 by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell.
Early color photograph taken by Prokudin-Gorskii (1915).
One of the early methods of taking color photos was to use three cameras. Each camera would have a color filter in front of the lens. This technique provides the photographer with the three basic channels required to recreate a color image in a darkroom or processing plant. Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii developed another technique, with three color plates taken in quick succession.
Practical application of the technique was held back by the very limited color response of early film; however, in the early 1900s, following the work of photo-chemists such as H. W. Vogel, emulsions with adequate sensitivity to green and red light at last became available.
The first commercially successful color process, the Autochrome, invented by the French Lumière brothers, reached the market in 1907. It was based on a 'screen-plate' filter made of dyed grains of potato starch, and was one of many additive color screen products available between the 1890s and the 1950s. A later example of the additive screen process was the German Agfacolor introduced in 1932. In 1935, American Kodak introduced the first modern ('integrated tri-pack') color film which was developed by two musicians Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky ("Man" and "God") working with the Kodak Research Labs. It was Kodachrome, based on multiple layered silver gelatin emulsions that were each sensitized to one of the three additive colors—red, green, and blue. The cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes were created in those layers by adding color couplers during processing. This was followed in 1936 by Agfa's Agfacolor Neu. Unlike the Kodachrome tri-pack process, the color couplers in Agfacolor Neu were incorporated into the emulsion layers during manufacture, which greatly simplified the film processing. Most modern color films, except Kodachrome, use such incorporated-coupler techniques, though since the 1970s nearly all have used a technique developed by Kodak to accomplish this, rather than the original Agfa method. Instant color film was introduced by Polaroid in 1963.
Color photography may form images as a positive transparency, intended for use in a slide projector, or as color negatives intended for use in creating positive color enlargements on specially coated paper. The latter is now the most common form of film (non-digital) color photography owing to the introduction of automated photoprinting equipment.
Ultraviolet and infrared films have been available for many decades and employed in a variety of photographic avenues since the 1960s. New technological trends in digital photography have opened a new direction in full spectrum photography, where careful filtering choices across the ultraviolet, visible and infrared lead to new artistic visions.
Modified digital cameras can detect some ultraviolet, all of the visible and much of the near infrared spectrum, as most digital imaging sensors are sensitive from about 350 nm to 1000 nm. An off-the-shelf digital camera contains an infrared hot mirror filter that blocks most of the infrared and a bit of the ultraviolet that would otherwise be detected by the sensor, narrowing the accepted range from about 400 nm to 700 nm. Replacing a hot mirror or infrared blocking filter with an infrared pass or a wide spectrally transmitting filter allows the camera to detect the wider spectrum light at greater sensitivity. Without the hot-mirror, the red, green and blue (or cyan, yellow and magenta) colored micro-filters placed over the sensor elements pass varying amounts of ultraviolet (blue window) and infrared (primarily red, and somewhat lesser the green and blue micro-filters).
Uses of full spectrum photography are for fine art photography, geology, forensics & law enforcement, and even some claimed use in ghost hunting.
A handheld digital camera, Canon Ixus class.
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds entry-level DSLR.
The Nikon D1, the first DSLR to truly compete with, and begin to replace, film cameras in the professional photojournalism and sports photography fields.
Nikon DSLR and scanner, which converts film images to digital
Sony Ericsson K800i camera phone.
Manual shutter control and exposure settings can achieve unusual results.
Main article: Digital photography
See also: Digital versus film photography
Traditional photography burdened photographers working at remote locations without easy access to processing facilities, and competition from television pressured photographers to deliver images to newspapers with greater speed. Photo journalists at remote locations often carried miniature photo labs and a means of transmitting images through telephone lines. In 1981, Sony unveiled the first consumer camera to use a charge-coupled device for imaging, eliminating the need for film: the Sony Mavica. While the Mavica saved images to disk, the images were displayed on television, and the camera was not fully digital. In 1990, Kodak unveiled the DCS 100, the first commercially available digital camera. Although its high cost precluded uses other than photojournalism and professional photography, commercial digital photography was born.
Digital imaging uses an electronic image sensor to record the image as a set of electronic data rather than as chemical changes on film. The primary difference between digital and chemical photography is that chemical photography resists manipulation because it involves film and photographic paper, while digital imaging is a highly manipulative medium. This difference allows for a degree of image post-processing that is comparatively difficult in film-based photography and permits different communicative potentials and applications.
Digital point-and-shoot cameras have become widespread consumer products, outselling film cameras, and including new features such as video and audio recording. Kodak announced in January 2004 that it would no longer sell reloadable 35 mm cameras in western Europe, Canada and the United States after the end of that year. Kodak was at that time a minor player in the reloadable film cameras market. In January 2006, Nikon followed suit and announced that they will stop the production of all but two models of their film cameras: the low-end Nikon FM10, and the high-end Nikon F6. On May 25, 2006, Canon announced they will stop developing new film SLR cameras. Though most new camera designs are now digital, a new 6x6cm/6x7cm medium format film camera was introduced in 2008 in a cooperation between Fuji and Voigtländer.
According to a survey made by Kodak in 2007, 75 percent of professional photographers say they will continue to use film, even though some embrace digital.
According to the U.S. survey results, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of professional photographers prefer the results of film to those of digital for certain applications including:
film’s superiority in capturing more information on medium and large format films (48 percent);
creating a traditional photographic look (48 percent);
capturing shadow and highlighting details (45 percent);
the wide exposure latitude of film (42 percent); and
archival storage (38 percent)
Digital imaging has raised many ethical concerns because of the ease of manipulating digital photographs in post processing. Many photojournalists have declared they will not crop their pictures, or are forbidden from combining elements of multiple photos to make "illustrations," passing them as real photographs. Today's technology has made picture editing relatively simple for even the novice photographer. However, recent changes of in-camera processing allows digital fingerprinting of RAW photos to verify against tampering of digital photos for forensics use.
Camera phones, combined with sites like Flickr, have led to a new kind of social photography.
An amateur photographer is one who practices photography as a hobby and not for profit. The quality of some amateur work is comparable or superior to that of many professionals and may be highly specialized or eclectic in its choice of subjects. Amateur photography is often pre-eminent in photographic subjects which have little prospect of commercial use or reward.
Commercial photography is probably best defined as any photography for which the photographer is paid for images rather than works of art. In this light money could be paid for the subject of the photograph or the photograph itself. Wholesale, retail, and professional uses of photography would fall under this definition. The commercial photographic world could include:
Advertising photography: photographs made to illustrate and usually sell a service or product. These images, such as packshots, are generally done with an advertising agency, design firm or with an in-house corporate design team.
Fashion and glamour photography: This type of photography usually incorporates models. Fashion photography emphasizes the clothes or product, glamour emphasizes the model. Glamour photography is popular in advertising and in men's magazines. Models in glamour photography may be nude, but this is not always the case.
Crime Scene Photography: This type of photography consists of photographing scenes of crime such as robberies and murders. A black and white camera or an infrared camera may be used to capture specific details.
Still life photography usually depicts inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made.
Food photography can be used for editorial, packaging or advertising use. Food photography is similar to still life photography, but requires some special skills.
Editorial photography: photographs made to illustrate a story or idea within the context of a magazine. These are usually assigned by the magazine.
Photojournalism: this can be considered a subset of editorial photography. Photographs made in this context are accepted as a documentation of a news story.
Landscape photography: photographs of different locations.
Wildlife photography that demonstrates life of the animals.
Photo sharing: publishing or transfer of a user's digital photos online.
The market for photographic services demonstrates the aphorism "A picture is worth a thousand words", which has an interesting basis in the history of photography. Magazines and newspapers, companies putting up Web sites, advertising agencies and other groups pay for photography.
Many people take photographs for self-fulfillment or for commercial purposes. Organizations with a budget and a need for photography have several options: they can employ a photographer directly, organize a public competition, or obtain rights to stock photographs. Photo stock can be procured through traditional stock giants, such as Getty Images or Corbis; smaller microstock agencies, such as Fotolia; or web marketplaces, such as Cutcaster.
Classic Alfred Stieglitz photograph, The Steerage shows unique aesthetic of black and white photos.
During the twentieth century, both fine art photography and documentary photography became accepted by the English-speaking art world and the gallery system. In the United States, a handful of photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, John Szarkowski, F. Holland Day, and Edward Weston, spent their lives advocating for photography as a fine art. At first, fine art photographers tried to imitate painting styles. This movement is called Pictorialism, often using soft focus for a dreamy, 'romantic' look. In reaction to that, Weston, Ansel Adams, and others formed the Group f/64 to advocate 'straight photography', the photograph as a (sharply focused) thing in itself and not an imitation of something else.
The aesthetics of photography is a matter that continues to be discussed regularly, especially in artistic circles. Many artists argued that photography was the mechanical reproduction of an image. If photography is authentically art, then photography in the context of art would need redefinition, such as determining what component of a photograph makes it beautiful to the viewer. The controversy began with the earliest images "written with light"; Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre, and others among the very earliest photographers were met with acclaim, but some questioned if their work met the definitions and purposes of art.
Clive Bell in his classic essay Art states that only "significant form" can distinguish art from what is not art.
There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless. What is this quality? What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl, Chinese carpets, Giotto's frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible - significant form. In each, lines and colors combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions.
On February 14, 2006 Sotheby’s London sold the 2001 photograph "99 Cent II Diptychon" for an unprecedented $3,346,456 to an anonymous bidder making it the most expensive of all time.
Photography that turns a concept or idea into a photograph. Even though what is depicted in the photographs are real objects, the subject is strictly abstract.
Wootton bridge collapse in 1861
Original Tay Bridge from the north showing structure based on towers built from cast iron columns. When enlarged this plate shows a key design flaw in the bridge: the smaller surviving towers were supported by a continuous girder at their tops, while the fallen towers lack this essential reinforcing element.
Fallen Tay Bridge from the north. The two surviving high towers show a gap in their tops when the picture is enlarged.
The camera has a long and distinguished history as a means of recording phenomena from the first use by Daguerre and Fox-Talbot, such as astronomical events (eclipses for example), small creatures and plants when the camera was attached to the eyepiece of microscopes (in photomicroscopy) and for macro photography of larger specimens. The camera also proved useful in recording crime scenes and the scenes of accidents, such as the Wootton bridge collapse in 1861 and the Staplehurst rail crash of 1865. One of the first systematic applications occurred at the scene of the Tay Rail Bridge disaster of 1879. The court, just a few days after the accident, ordered James Valentine of Dundee to record the scene using both long distance shots and close-ups of the debris. The set of over 50 accident photographs was used in the subsequent court of inquiry so that witnesses could identify pieces of the wreckage, and the technique is now commonplace both at accident scenes and subsequent cases in courts of law. The set of over 50 Tay bridge photographs are of very high quality, being made on a large plate camera with a small aperture and using fine grain emulsion film on a glass plate. When the surviving positive prints are scanned at high resolution, they can be enlarged to show details of the failed components such as broken cast iron lugs and the tie bars which failed to hold the towers in place. The set of original photographs is held at Dundee City Library. The photographs show that, in the words of the Public Inquiry the bridge was "badly designed, badly built and badly maintained". The methods used in analysing old photographs are collectively known as forensic photography.
Between 1846 and 1852 Charles Brooke invented a technology for the automatic registration of instruments by photography. These instruments included barometers, thermometers, psychrometers, and magnetometers, which recorded their readings by means of an automated photographic process.
5×7 in. unretouched photograph of the Wright brothers' first flight, 1903.
Photography has become ubiquitous in recording events and data in science and engineering, and at crime scenes or accident scenes. The method has been much extended by using other wavelengths, such as infrared photography and ultraviolet photography, as well as spectroscopy. Those methods were first used in the Victorian era and developed much further since that time.
Besides the camera, other methods of forming images with light are available. For instance, a photocopy or xerography machine forms permanent images but uses the transfer of static electrical charges rather than photographic film, hence the term electrophotography. Photograms are images produced by the shadows of objects cast on the photographic paper, without the use of a camera. Objects can also be placed directly on the glass of an image scanner to produce digital pictures.
There are many ongoing questions about different aspects of photography. In her writing "On Photography" (1977), Susan Sontag discusses concerns about the objectivity of photography. This is a highly debated subject within the photographic community. Sontag argues, "To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting one’s self into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge, and therefore like power." Photographers decide what to take a photo of, what elements to exclude and what angle to frame the photo, and these factors may reflect a particular socio-historical context. Along these lines it can be argued that photography is a subjective form of representation.
Modern photography has raised a number of concerns on its impact on society. In Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), the camera is presented as a promoter of voyeuristic inhibitions. 'Although the camera is an observation station, the act of photographing is more than passive observing'. Michal Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) portrays the camera as both sexual and sadistically violent technology that literally kills in this picture and at the same time captures images of the pain and anguish evident on the faces of the female victims.
"The camera doesn't rape or even possess, though it may presume, intrude, trespass, distort, exploit, and, at the farthest reach of metaphor, assassinate - all activities that, unlike the sexual push and shove, can be conducted from a distance, and with some detachment."
Photography is one of the new media forms that changes perception and changes the structure of society. Further unease has been caused around cameras in regards to desensitization. Fears that disturbing or explicit images are widely accessible to children and society at large have been raised. Particularly, photos of war and pornography are causing a stir. Sontag is concerned that "to photograph is to turn people into objects that can be symbolically possessed." Desensitization discussion goes hand in hand with debates about censored images. Sontag writes of her concern that the ability to censor pictures means the photographer has the ability to construct reality.
One of the practices through which photography constitutes society is tourism. Tourism and photography combine to create a "tourist gaze" in which local inhabitants are positioned and defined by the camera lens. However, it has also been argued that there exists a "reverse gaze" through which indigenous photographees can position the tourist photographer as a shallow consumer of images.
Photography is both restricted and protected by the law in many jurisdictions. Protection of photographs is typically achieved through the granting of copyright or moral rights to the photographer. In the UK a recent law (Counter-Terrorism Act 2008) increases the power of the police to prevent people, even press photographers, from taking pictures in public places.
Since 2005, computer and information scientists at Penn State University have been developing a real-time system, ACQUINE (Aesthetic Quality Inference Engine), to infer photo aesthetics. The system leverages machine learning and statistical modeling techniques, as well as online manual ratings of photos. After a photograph is uploaded to the system, a score between 0 and 100 is given.
Photographers keep facing more and more questions and charges for breaking the law, making it important now so more than ever to understand your rights and responsibilities as a photographer. In this article, we’ll go over such rights, as well as Model Releases.
First a quick note, your rights and the laws surrounding photography vary from country to country and even from state to state, so always make sure what laws are in force in your area.
The general rule is that you can photograph mostly anything you like as long as it’s in a public place. You do not need to have permission to photograph in public, this include photographing building and parks as well as people that are in public areas.
If you’re on public property you can even photograph private property, for example standing on the street and photographing someone’s garden. If you are on private property you can photograph until someone ask you to stop (a sign prohibiting photography counts as well) and you must obey such a request.
There are exceptions to this rule, for example military installations or other subjects that can be classed as national security. However infrastructures such as bridges are not included in such a list. Another exception is, even in a public space, places like dressing rooms, restrooms or people entering their code at the ATM machine — photographing at these places counts as invading a person’s privacy.
So to summarize, here are some examples of things you can photograph, if you’re in a public space you can photograph adults, children, law enforcement officers, accidents, criminal activities, celebrities, airports and train stations.
There is a good chance that somewhere along the way in your photography experience, someone is going to confront you. Everything from regular citizens to security personal and law enforcement officers might question your activity and ask you to stop photographing. They might say it’s for security reason and refer to acts like terrorism, this is not a valid reason for them to ask you to stop what you are doing. As long as you’re in a public space you have the right to photograph.
First of all, act politely and stay as calm as possible. You do not need to explain why you are there or what you are photographing. In most cases you do not need to disclose your identity (depending on your country/state you might need to do so if it’s a law enforcement officer that is requesting).
You do not need to give them your camera/memory card nor do you need to delete the images. Unless they have a court order or are arresting you (again, depending on your location) they have no right to take your equipment.
If you are asked to delete photographs or asked to hand over your equipment ask for their identity and who they work for. Also ask what legal reason they cite for doing this to you. If this happens to you, you might want to consider taking legal action or contact your local newspaper.
Okay, so you have the right to photograph mostly anything, but are you allowed to do whatever you want with the photographs you took? The short answer is: No, there are rules and laws surrounding how you publish and distribute your photographs.
Once again, I cannot stress this enough, the laws are not the same all around the world so make sure you know what the laws says in your area before you do something you will later regret. A wrong decision can end up costing you a lot of money, not to mention your reputation as a respectable photographer.
In most areas the main difference in your rights is depending on if the photograph is used commercially or not. If your photograph is not commercial, i.e. considered art, you have much more rights to publish and use your photograph. For example, in most countries you are allowed to publish and sell photographs that are considered art without a legal release from the model/person in the photo. This means that you can go around the city photographing people in everyday situations and sell the prints or have a show at a gallery without notifying the people you photograph.
However if you intend to use the photograph in any commercial situation you will need a model release from the model. An important note is that if you sell the photograph to a commercial agency they are responsible for getting the model release from both the model and you as the photographer. If they publish your photograph without a model release you are not to blame — however all serious agencies requires a model release for every photograph they buy.
There is one gray spot though, photographers portfolios. They are used to display your work, just like commercials, but in most countries they are considered art and you do not need a model release to publish a photo on your portfolio.
News photographs, even though they can be used to sell newspapers, do not require a model release to be published and sold.
As you can see this is a rather complex issue, and I haven’t even talked about how different it is from country to country, so it’s important that you check this yourself before doing a job.
I’ve talked quite a lot about model release, which is a form of a legal document that basically states that you as a photographer holds the rights to the photograph and can do what you want with it. These legal releases can be made very simple or they can be quite detailed; in most cases a simple one will do just fine. Before doing a large-scale job, contacting a lawyer will be well worth the money to avoid any legal problems later on.
I have designed two different samples of model releases, which could be used as a guide to what you might need/want. These samples are not intended for actual use, they are supplied as guides and should be used as such.
The first one is a standard model release to be used when photographing a model for commercial use. It gives the photographer complete rights to the photographs.
The second one is a specific model release for a type of modeling that is becoming more and more common, Time-For-Print. Time-For-Print is the idea that the model gives you his/her time and for that they receive an agreed upon amount of prints for compensation. This is common for models starting out and wanting to build up a portfolio and for photographers doing the same thing. This model release is more flexible and gives options on what compensation the model is expected to receive.
If you’re doing a planned photography session with people; models, weddings, children etc. always have them sign a model release. It’s for your own safety! Do not just throw the paper on the counter and force them to sign it, it’s important that they understand what they are signing and explain what it is. They are signing away their rights to the photograph of themselves or their children; it’s understandably that they might have some questions or concerns so you should be thorough.
I am not a lawyer and this text should not be seen as legal advice. If you need legal advice contact a local lawyer whom have knowledge in this field.
Laws are different from country to country and even state-to-state, so contact a lawyer or local law enforcement office for specific laws in your area. Another good advice is to contact a local newspaper, they often have good knowledge what photography related laws are in place in the area they work in.
Running into problems when taking photographs over, and over again? Here’s a handy guide that will help you troubleshoot your problems, and improve your shots all at once!
Rather than stretch this out over several articles, it seemed like a good idea to provide solutions to common problems in Photography all in one informative list. Please be sure to ask any questions if you’re having problems not mentioned here!
Photos that aren’t sharp are almost always caused by focus problems — either you, or the auto focus didn’t do their job correctly. If you are using auto focus and still get blurred photos it might be because the camera used another focusing point rather than the one thought you intended to use. Another reason might be the setting of the focus and then moving the camera without refocusing.
Camera shake is a result of unsteady hands or a too long of a exposure. To counter this you can change the shutter speed, or make the exposure time shorter. If you don’t want to change the aperture you can always change the ISO setting. Higher ISO will create noise, but noise is better than a blurry image caused by too long of a exposure time. Another option is to use a tripod or monopod.
For more information about this topic, you may like to read our tutorial on Proven Ways to Reduce Camera Shake.
This is the result of photographing a moving object with a too long exposure… no matter how steady you are. A faster shutter speed is the only solution in this problem — some action sports require speeds as quick as 1/1000+.
The sensor is not able to pick up the whole spectrum of light and expose it correctly in some situations. Unless you want to manipulate your photographs in post-production (such as HDR) you have two options: either select the part of the scene that is most important to expose correctly, or use a graduated ND filter to get the entire scene exposed correctly (primarily used in landscape photography).
Low contrast can be a result from photographing in bad lighting conditions, or in unique instances, environments can play a role in this problem (such as a snowy landscape). This is most often easily fixed in Photoshop by using the adjustment layer Levels to change the black and white point. The example photograph is lacking contrast due to stray light reaching the sensor, which can be countered by using a lens hood.
Here’s a good article that shows how to Correct Lighting and Contrast Problems in Photoshop.
A lens flare is created when the lens picks up stray light. The best way to block out this unwanted light is to use a lens hood. Different lenses create different lens flares — cheaper lenses usually create uglier flares than high-end lenses, but even with a high-end lens one should always use a hood to minimize the risk.
This is an optical effect that can occur in low light situations in combination with some (often cheaper) lenses. A UV filter can increase this effect, so if you notice these types of odd lights on your night photographs you might want to consider removing the UV filter for the duration of the shoot.
Not enough light reached the sensor, you need to change the exposure settings to get a correctly exposed photograph. Either a slower shutter speed, a larger aperture or higher ISO — or all of them combined.
Read more about Exposure in Photography.
Too much light reached the sensor — you need to change the exposure settings to get a correctly exposed photograph. Either a faster shutter speed, a smaller aperture or lower ISO — or all of them combined.
Vignette are dark corners in a photograph, which occur when the light is not evenly distributed on the sensor or when the flash just lights up the center of a shot.
Many lenses, even high-end, create this effect when opened wide (largest aperture). To fix this problem simply stop down the aperture a few stops and this should even out the distribution.
Mostly a problem when photographing architecture with a wide-angle lens. A lens below 50mm usually creates some distortion but in most cases this is not visible. However when you are photographing straight lines (such as buildings), standing close to the object and pointing the camera upwards you will more easily see these distortions. Take a few steps backward or change to a more suitable lens.
You were either holding the camera skewed or the tripod was set up uneven. Some DSLR cameras have the ability to change the focusing screen and install one that has guidelines. This is rather easily fixed in post-production by rotating the image, but you will loose some of the edges.
This effect occurs when the flash is located close to the lens and is a common problem with our modern point-and-shoot-cameras due to their placement of the flash. To prevent red eyes, do not use the cameras internal flash if your camera has one. Use an external flash that you can bounce on a wall or on the ceiling.
Most likely due to a high ISO setting, but can also be caused by long exposures. To prevent noise, use a low ISO setting. If you have photographs with much noise you can always use a software to remove it, such as Photoshop or Noise Ninja, though some detail will be lost of course.
You can learn more about ISO, Aperture, and other essential subjects in our Photography Basics article.
The camera is most likely to have miscalculated and thought the photograph was outdoors and added orange tones to compensate. The white balance is the fault here, and if you’re photographing in RAW there’s no problem since you can easily just change the white balance to a desired level. If you’re not using RAW-files then you might want to check your settings in the camera — most cameras have W/B setting for indoors and outdoors, as well as custom settings and auto. The fault could also be that you used a flash that bounced off an orange surface as well, so try to always bounce the flash at a neutral surface, such as gray.
These photographs look very cold and are most likely due to a miscalculation by the camera and just like the previous problem discussed, you can fix it the same way. Another reason why a photograph can get a blue tint is because of large amounts of UV-light, to reduce this problem use a UV-filter that prevents the UV-light to reach the sensor without affecting the overall quality of the photograph. (Not a problem for most digital SLR cameras.)
The flash doesn’t sync correctly with the camera (shutter). This problem was more predominant before the digital era, but old flashes can still cause problems with newer technology. Either buy a new flash or learn which shutter speeds work best — 1/125 and 1/60 are usually good.
Chromatic Aberration (sometimes also called “purple fringing”) is an optical effect and it’s seen as purple edges around an object, sometimes green edges on the opposite side are also visible. This effect is most common in situations with strong contrast, such as sunlight against dark objects or black text on white background. The problem is more prominent on zoom lenses, the longer the range the worse the problem usually is. To prevent it you could use a smaller aperture — shooting with the lens wide open will enhance the problem.
These gray spots are usually caused by sensor dust. The best way to get rid of this problem is to keep your gear clean and dust free. The sensor is very sensitive and cleaning it will mean that you expose it to further risks. Some photographers send their cameras to be cleaned while others clean the sensor themselves. Choose which option you like best.
The Crop Factor is a term that can be heard quite often in the world of digital photography. What does it mean that a camera has a crop factor of 1.6x and how does it affect your focal length? We try to untangle this issue and describe it as clearly as possible.
The subject of crop factors and focal length multiplier can be a bit confusing and hard to understand at first — I will try to explain it as simple as possible but yet informative enough for you to get the entire picture.
The size of the sensor is what controls the crop factor, and it’s always compared to a 35mm film size. So when people talk about Full Frame they are talking about cameras that have a sensor the same size as a 35mm film (24×36mm).
As you can see in the illustration above, a body with a crop factor captures only the center part of the image. The image itself is round because that’s what the lens produces, and the sensor only picks up the light that reaches it. A full frame sensor will capture edge to edge of what the lens capture.
It’s important to know that the crop factor changes the field of view, it doesn’t actually change the focal length, since that is something that is decided by the design of the lens. The same results could be produced by taking a photograph with a full frame camera and crop it to only show the center — however it would require a camera with a good enough sensor that such a small crop would still produce a good quality image. These high-end sensors are currently only found in the top of the line cameras from Nikon and Canon.
What it also means is that the perspective doesn’t change with the crop factor, if you stand on the same spot and take a photograph with a full frame camera with a 50mm lens and then take another photograph with a 1.6x crop factor camera you will get the exact same perspective (the 1.6x camera will however not have the same view of field).
When people say that a 50mm lens is the natural focal length they talk about perspective in relations with the human eye, and as stated above, this is the same even on cropped bodies, a 50mm lens still produces a natural looking photograph. To test this, use a 50mm lens and look through the viewfinder with one eye and have your other eye open, you will notice that the perspective looks the same for both eyes, no matter if you’re using a cropped body or not.
To counter this issue, most lens manufacturers have designed some lenses that are only meant to be used on cameras with a crop factor (i.e. not on full frame bodies). These lenses often produces a smaller image circle so if they were used on full frame bodies they would create a black edge, much like circular fish eye lenses do. Since the problem with crop factor is mainly negative with wide-angle lenses it’s almost entirely that focal range that has designated digital lenses.
Here is a list of the name camera manufacturers call their digital only lenses.
Canon — EF-S
Nikon — DX
Sony — DT
Pentax — DA
Sigma — DC
Tamron — Di-II
One thing to remember is that the crop factor is still in use even on these cameras and you must multiply the given focal length to get the “correct” focal length. For example, Canon has an ultra wide EF-S lens that has a focal length of 10-22mm, on a body with a 1.6x crop factor the focal length corresponds to a 16-35mm. So don’t believe that you do not need to multiply the focal length just because you have a lens designed from cropped bodies.
There are both
positive and negative affects with the crop factor, let’s talk
about the positive aspects first.
To get the “correct” focal length you need to multiply the focal length with the crop factor. When I say correct I mean the focal length that the lens acts like, not what it truly is. My camera has a crop factor of 1.6x and that means that a 50mm lens is a 80mm lens (50×1.6=80). It also means that a 100-400mm lens is actually a 160-640mm lens. That’s a very good thing in most situations. You loose 60mm on the short end but gain 240mm on the long end — rather significant. With telephoto lenses the crop factor is often desirable, since it extends your “reach” quite a bit.
Another positive affect is that almost all lenses are much sharper in the middle and softer on the edges. How can this be a good thing? Well with a camera that has a crop factor you only get the center of what the lens sees (unless it’s a lens designed for crop factors as described above). So with a crop factor you only get the center and therefore the best performance from your lens.
Now over to the not so good aspects of the crop factor. Wide-angle lenses, this is a big minus on the bodies with smaller sensors. As the example above, the 10-22mm ultra wide turns into a 16-35mm lens, and for example a 17-40mm lens turns into a 27-64mm lens. You simply do not get the same wide angles with a crop factor, the edges are cut off and field of view is more limited.
Another negative affect is that the extra focal length you gain also means that you increase the risk for blur due to camera shake. The rule that you should have a shutter speed of 1/focal length is no longer true. For this rule to be true you first need to multiply your focal length with the crop factor of the body.
Full frame camera often have a larger viewfinder as well. When I’m comparing my old 35mm film camera with my 1.6x crop DSLR it actually makes me a little bit sad inside. The viewfinder on the 35mm camera is so large and bright where as the DSLR’s viewfinder is although bright still very very small.
There is one more thing a smaller sensor affects, but it would be hard to classify it as either good or bad. Different sizes of sensors change the depth of field. A smaller sensor will give you greater depth of field (more in focus) and a full frame sensor will give you a narrower depth of field (less in focus). If this is good or bad is dependent on what you desire, either you want as much as possible in focus or you want to isolate your subject as effective as possible.
I hope I didn’t confuse you too much. This is an important part of digital photography to understand, at least the very basics of it.
Filters can add special effects or abilities to your camera lens. Understanding how filters work will give you an extra arsenal of equipment to create that magical shot you’ve been looking for.
Most lenses have the ability to add filters, primarily by screwing them on in front of the lens while some lenses require the filters to be attached at the rear end of the lens. Filters are used for several different reasons: increasing contrast, changing the exposure, capturing invisible light or minimizing reflections are just a few to name.
The use of filters has gone downhill in this age of digital photography. These days it’s simply easier to make these changes in post-production instead of using a filter during the photo shoot.
While that might be true, there are still some things we can’t change in post-production, and filters can become a necessity.
UV stands for Ultraviolet, which is light that is invisible to the human eye. UV filters were used to cut down on haziness, such as in mountains and around coastal areas, but the digital sensor isn’t as sensitive to this as 35mm film was. However the UV filters are still around, mainly because these filters are used for lens protection.
Having a UV filter attached to the lens at all times makes the lens more protected from scratches, dust, weather and accidentally dropping the lens. There are debates among photographers about the use of UV filters; some argue that they visually affect the outcome of the photograph while others argue that they don’t affect it and that the filter is a great insurance.
I personally always have a UV filter screwed onto every single one of my lenses, and I’ve had one of my lenses saved thanks to the attached filter. However, if you are going to use a UV filter, don’t buy the cheapest one you can find. If you have a good lens, buy something like a high-end B+W filter.
ND filters, or Neutral Density filters, are a great way to take control over exposure time. These filters are used to reduce the amount of light that reaches the sensor, which makes it possible for the photographer to use a larger aperture for a longer period of time then what would be normal under given circumstances.
An example of this would be the ability to photograph a waterfall with a slow shutter speed during a bright day. Without a ND filter most lenses would not be able to use an aperture small enough for long exposures but with an ND filter attached the photographer can mix and match just how he wants it.
These filters have the same principle as the regular ND filters but with one important distinction, they do not have the ND effect on the whole glass. The ND effect is gradual and is perfect if you want to have the sky darkened but not the foreground for example. These filters have their limits, such as the gradual transition is a straight line, which might not always be the case with nature… oh, and they are also rather expensive. Most of these filters are rectangular and uses a special holder to place them in.
These polarizing filters have many uses, and are one of my favorite filters to use. Most of them are circular, often called Pol-Cir or CPL filters, and you change the level of polarization by rotating the outer layer of the filter. The polarizer filter affects the photographs in such a way that cannot be reproduced in post-production, which makes it a very useful tool even today.
What it does is reduces reflections on non-metallic surfaces, such as water and glass. Removing reflections can be very useful in both urban and wild life situations and have the ability to totally alter the outcome of the photograph.
Another effect the polarizing filter has is that it increases contrast and color saturation while at the same time reducing haze. This effect can clearly be seen in skies, in which the sky can be darkened and more colorful but keeping the clouds white.
A quick word of advice though is that a polarizing filter will, depending on brand and quality, not let 100% light through — which will affect the exposure. With most brands you will loose one full-stop.
Macro filters, close-up filters or diopters, are not ordinary filters — they are more like an extra lens you place in front of another lens. This makes close-ups possible even with normal or telephoto lenses, although the result is often not true 1:1 macro. Several filters can be stacked on top of each other to intensify the effect.
I personally would recommend people look into getting an extension tube instead. Extension tubes change the closest possible focus length, without affecting the image quality as badly as macro filters do. The best option is obviously a true macro lens, but an extension tube is much cheaper and might be a good first step into the world of macro photography, and the extension tube can be used together with a macro lens to enhance the magnification.
Macro filters have many drawbacks such as softening up the image considerably, and these filters often produce lacking quality. Use with caution.
Color filters are rarely used anymore; they were primarily used for black & white photography to manipulate the contrast. An example is using a yellow, orange or red filter, which will increase the contrast between skies and clouds, making the clouds really stand out. These days the effects can quite easily be reproduced digitally with the help of levels and channels.
IR stands for Infrared, and these wavelengths are on the opposite side of the light spectrum from UV. To photograph in IR you need a filter that only lets through IR light, however there are some problems with modern cameras. The sensor is constructed to not record IR light, and unless you want to permanently modify your camera (or purchase specially designed cameras such as Canon’s 20Da) there are some restrictions. This technique is so unique and odd that I will dedicate an entire article about IR photography later on instead of writing how it all works in this one.
Filters can get
stuck fairly easy sometimes, and a stuck filter can render a lens
completely useless in some situations. Circular polarizing filters
tend to get stuck more often due to the fact that half the filter
rotates on its own which can make it difficult to take it off. I’ve
found that the best solution to remove stuck filters is to use a
filter wrench, which applies the pressure evenly
around the filter and thus can make even the most stuck filter come
off in a few seconds.
Filter wrenches come in two sizes, one for filter sizes up to 58mm and another for larger sizes. If you use filters this is definitely a piece of equipment that should be in your camera bag, they take no space and can really save your day!
Learn how to get those steady shots, both with the help of tripods, monopods, and additionally with your bear hands. These tips are guaranteed to improve your stability while taking photographs!
To get good photographs you usually have to hold the camera steady. Sometimes a blurry photograph or one in motion can be desired, but most of the time it’s unwanted. The most common equipment to help counter this is the tripod, but I will also give you a few other tips to reduce camera shake in this article.
As I said, the tripod is the classic tool to make your photographs sharp and crisp. It’s by far the steadiest method and produces great result time after time, but there are a few things to think about.
Just like everything else the tripods comes in all different shapes and sizes, not to mention price classes. It’s important to sit down and think about what you want out of your tripod — is it going to be used in a studio or outdoors, what type of lenses are you planning on using and how much do they weight, do you want a ball head or a 3-way pan-tilt head?
If you’re only going to use the tripod indoors it doesn’t have to be as sturdy and rough as an outdoors tripod needs to be. The heavier the tripod the more stable it is, and I’ve learned a ‘rule’ that says “for every 100mm focal length the tripod should weigh 1kg (2.2 lbs)“. So if you are planning on using a 300mm telephoto lens the tripod should weigh about 3kg (6.6 lbs). I’m not sure how accurate this rule is, but it can work as some kind of guideline. Do keep in mind though that high-end tripods can be both very stable and light, but rather expensive.
If you do not need to have the tripod set up at full height, extend the upper parts of the legs first since the lower parts are thinner and thereby not as stable. Some tripods have the ability to raise a post in the center to maximize the height even more — do not use this feature unless you truly need to since the center post is more unstable.
The choice between a ball head and a 3-way pan-tilt head is simply personal preferences. With the 3-way pan-tilt head you can easily change just one axes, such as panning or tilting, without affecting the other axes. The ball head gives you more ability to move the camera around and is much faster to change, but ball heads are often more expensive.
A personal tripod recommendation would be the Manfrotto 055XPROB legs with the 488RC2 ball head. I have an earlier version of the legs, but the difference is minimal. This combination would land somewhere in the mid-range of prices, but the quality is very high and unless you have very heavy lenses (in which case you might want to look at Gitzo tripods) this is a perfect solution. This tripod is not the lightest, but it’s steady and at a great price.
If you’re tall this is also a tripod to consider, since it stand very tall even without the center post raised.
A monopod is a great alternative to tripods and handheld. You can’t have a shutter speed of 1 hour on a monopod like you can on a tripod, you can most likely not even have a shutter speed of 30 seconds — but that’s not the target market for monopods. They are a more mobile tool to help you stabilize your shots without having to carry around a tripod, and monopods are far more simple and quick to set up.
It can take some time getting use to a monopod, and the most effective way to use it is to have its foot placed against your back foot. Do not just have the monopod stand in front of you; this will not give enough stability to help you very much. Try finding a good posture where you can hold the camera as steady as possible.
This is the most common way to take photographs and most of the time it will do just fine, but there are ways to take advantage of your surrounding and changing your stance to help you with stability.
Always hold the camera close to you, inhale and hold your breath for the duration of the shot. Don’t just tap the shutter release button — you want to press it down and hold down the finger a short while before lifting it again to minimize camera shake.
If you’re using a telephoto lens or other lens that is somewhat heavy or long place your left hand under the lens and grasp it — do not hold the camera body with both hands if you’re using a heavy lens.
Keeping as low profile as possible is a great way to increase your stability. If possible, lay flat on your stomach with both your elbows on the ground. Not as stable but another good stance is with one knee on the ground and the other one at a 90° angle.
Leaning against a tree or wall is another great way to take the stability of something else and help it make you more stable. If possible, place the camera against the tree/wall to maximize the stability. The same goes for rocks, logs, railings and more or less everything you can find to rest your camera on. On many occasions it can be more helpful to rest your camera on a rock than using a monopod.
One last trick I learned from a friend of mine; take your left hand and place it on your right shoulder, take your camera in your right hand and place it on your left elbow/forearm — this might take some time getting use to but the result is a very stable stance that works great with telephoto lenses.
There is a general rule in photography that says that your shutter speed should be at least equal to your focal length to minimize unwanted camera shakes. This means that if you use a 100mm telephoto lens the shutter speed should be at least 1/100s, if you use a 300mm lens the shutter speed should be at least 1/320s.
A warning about the previous stated rule is crucial. Most Digital SLR cameras do not have a sensor with the same dimensions as 35mm film (which was used at the time the rule was made). In most cases the camera has a crop factor of 1.5 or 1.6, this means that a 100mm leans is actually a 150 or 160mm lens when translated into 35mm film sizes.
If you’re using a camera with a crop factor of 1.6 and using a 200mm telephoto lens you should have a shutter speed of at least 1/320 (200mm * 1.6 = 320)
Depth of field (DOF) is the distance in front and beyond the object that is in focus. This tutorial will teach you about how to use Depth of Field in your own photography.
In case you’re looking for a way to imitate Depth of Field in Photoshop (rather than photography, as this tutorial illustrates), we’ve got a great tutorial that will teach you how to enhance your graphics with depth of field in Photoshop here at Tutorial9!
A short depth of field can be very useful when you want to isolate your object from the background, such as when taking portraits or macro photography. A large depth of field is great when you photograph landscapes and overall when you want every detail to be in focus.
There are three variables that affect DOF, the size of the Aperture, the distance to the object and what lens you’re using. (There is a fourth thing that affects the DOF, but that’s the size of the sensor and unless you have two cameras with different sensor sizes this isn’t something to take into account.)
As you can see in the illustration above, a lower f-number equals a shorter depth of field. A higher f-number will give you focus over a longer distance — when you’re having a hard time getting the correct focus it might be a good idea to extend your DOF by changing the aperture.
The distance between you and the object is also important, the closer you are to the object the shorter the DOF. If you’re photographing a person but needs to have a high f-number you can still get a very short DOF by keeping the distance between you and the person to a minimum.
The last thing you can do to affect your DOF is to change the lens. A wide-angle lens has a much greater DOF than a telephoto lens; the most extreme wide-angle and fish-eye lenses don’t even have to focus because they are so sharp on every aperture for the entire DOF (making for excellent scenic shots).
It’s important to know that the depth of field is greater behind the object than in front of it. If you want to photograph, let’s say 20 kids standing in a line, and you want as many of them as possible to be in focus, but you’re unable to have a small aperture, you should focus on the 6th-7th kid in line, which would balance the field of focus about right (depending on your distance to the kids). If you would focus on the 10th kid, that is the one in the middle, the first few kids would be more out of focus than the kids at the back of the line.
Unlike some other parts of photography, the depth of field works in your favor almost every time. If you want to photograph landscapes you usually have a wide-angle lens — the object is far away and you use a high f-number — all these things together gives you a depth to infinity. And if you’re photographing macro you’re close to the object, you have a telephoto lens and often a low f-number — all these things will give you a very short depth which will make your object stand out and make the background soft and non-distracting.
The word Bokeh derives from the Japanese word Boke which means “blur” or “fuzzy“, and that’s just what the term refers to in photography. The out of focus areas in the photograph look very different depending on the depth of field as well as the lens used, some lenses produces much better bokeh than other lenses. The shape of the aperture is one of the most important parts together with the quality of the optics when it comes to how the out of focus areas appear.
The photograph above is meant to illustrate what bokeh is. The lens used was the Canon 50mm f/1.8 which isn’t considered to be a good bokeh lens due to it’s 5 aperture blades.
The exposure is the combined factors of how long time the sensor is exposed to light, how much light comes through and how sensitive the sensor is to light. It’s based on three things, Aperture size, Shutter speed and ISO.
There are 3 parts of exposure that you should understand. The following examples ought to illustrate how these 3 components of exposure interact with one another.
You take a photograph with the following settings: ƒ/8, 1/250s and ISO 100
But let’s say you want to freeze the object more, which requires a faster shutter speed, you can either change the ISO or the Aperture. First of all let’s change the shutter speed 1 stop faster, 1/500s — now only half the amount of light will reach the sensor. To compensate for this and keep the exposure the same you can change the aperture size 1 f-stop larger, ƒ/5.6.
So ƒ/5.6, 1/500s and ISO 100 will give you the same exposure as ƒ/8, 1/250s and ISO 100 (but now the shutter speed is faster which allows you to freeze your object in a different way).
You’re indoors with bad light conditions which makes your current setting too slow and are unable to hold the camera steady enough. The settings are: ƒ/5.6, 1/60s and ISO 100. Your lens’ largest aperture is ƒ/4 which is 1 f-stop larger, changing your shutter speed 1 stop faster will result in: ƒ/4, 1/125s and ISO 100. The shutter speed is still too slow and the result is blurry due to camera shake. Since you can’t change the aperture anymore you will have to change the ISO setting, 1 stop will result in ISO 200, you now have: ƒ/4, 1/250s and ISO 200 which should be enough to get a sharp photograph.
As you hopefully can see from these examples all three parts of the exposure are related to each other. If you just change one of them the result will be either an underexposed or an overexposed photograph, but if you change both you can keep the balance.
55mm, f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 100
300mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 400
50mm, f/5, 1/320, ISO 400
Overexposure happens when the sensor is exposed to more than enough light, resulting in white images or at least white areas in the images around the light source(s). Sometimes it’s impossible to expose the photograph correctly without getting some overexposed areas. Overexposure can be used as an effect, but most of the time it’s unwanted and avoidable.
Underexposure is the opposite of overexposure, and is the result of the sensor not getting enough light, the photo is dark. Underexposure can be used artistically but just like overexposure it can be unwanted and hard to avoid.
With digital cameras it’s much easier to bring back the light and colors from underexposed areas than it is to bring back shades into overexposed areas. If you’re photographing in RAW you might want to consider to underexpose your images on purpose to avoid loosing details in overexposed areas and then use a digital lightroom to bring back the light from the underexposed areas if needed. This depends on the light conditions, and indoors it can be a good idea to overexpose instead.
I personally always underexpose my outdoor photographs 2/3 of an f-stop for this reason, and have found the results much more pleasing than a “correct” exposure.
Exposure Lock is a great feature that’s available on most cameras. It’s rather easy to understand what it does, it locks the exposure so that it doesn’t re-calculate the exposure if you move your camera around. Try to find a neutrally exposed part of your object, not the light source nor the shadows but something in between, and press the exposure lock button — recompose your photograph and take the picture.
M — Manual mode; this gives you full control over both aperture and shutter speed.
Av or A — Aperture priority; you control the aperture and the camera calculates the shutter speed for best exposure
Tv or S — Shutter priority; you control the shutter speed and the camera calculates the aperture
P — Program mode; a more advanced form of an auto mode. The camera calculates both the aperture and shutter speed, but doesn’t affect settings like ISO or flash.
Auto — everything is on auto, including ISO, flash and image quality
Portrait — uses a large aperture to shorten the depth of field
Landscape — uses a small aperture to gain more depth of field
Sport — uses higher ISO to use faster shutter speeds
Night portrait — uses long exposures to capture the entire scene, often combined with built in flash
Macro — uses a large aperture to great a softer background
There is no reason what so ever to use the automatic modes. After you’ve read through this series of articles about photography you should have enough knowledge to control the camera on manual modes — which will result in better photographs.
The Program mode (P) is fine to use, this way you will have the aperture and shutter automatic but still be in control over everything else. Most photographers find a mode that they like and maybe switches between two different modes, this is personal preferences and let me just tell you that far from every professional photographers uses only the fully Manual setting.
I personally use M and Av most of the time, depending on the situation. Av for the situations where I don’t have enough time to set the correct exposure between every shot and then M for the rest.
Ever wonder what it is that actually makes a camera work? This tutorial will cover the inner workings of a camera, and introduce you into photography basics and the expansive world of taking better photographs.
To take beautiful photographs you do not need an expensive camera and a bag full of equipment. What is important is the photographer’s ability to see his/her surrounding and use knowledge and personal feel for the subject.
Being the first article in a series, this lesson is meant to only cover the basics of photography. The idea with this series is to get people more interested in photography, awaken creativity and hopefully help people enjoy this hobby even more. The community here at Tutorial9 is an important part of this series and I would love to hear your feedback and questions.
The word “photography” is French but is based on Greek word and literarily means “drawing with light“. That’s what photography is all about, without light — no photograph. The art of photography is basically seeing and balancing the light.
The illustration to the left shows the path the light travels from the object to the sensor (or film in non-digital cameras).
First the light needs to go through the lens, which is a series of differently shaped pieces of glass. If the focus is good then the light will meet on the sensor.
The aperture is placed inside the lens and is basically an opening that controls how much light reaches the sensor.
On most modern cameras the shutter is placed inside the camera body. This piece of mechanics is what controls how long time the sensor is exposed to the light.
The sensor is a very sensitive plate where the light is absorbed and transformed into pixels. As you can see on this illustration, the image the sensor picks up is actually upside down, just like our eyes sees the world, the processor inside the camera then flips it.
The aperture sits inside the lens and controls how much light passes through the lens and onto the sensor. A large aperture lets through very much light and vice versa. Knowing how the aperture affects the photograph is one of the most important parts of photography — it affects the amount of light, depth of field, lens speed, sharpness and vignetting among other things. I will talk more about these things in later parts of this series.
F-numbers, a mathematical number that expresses the diameter of the aperture, are an important part of understanding how the aperture and exposure work. All f-numbers have a common notation, such as ƒ/5.6 for an f-number of 5.6. There are a set numbers of f-numbers that are used in photography, there are several different scales but the “standard” full-stop f-number scale is this:
ƒ/# 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 32
These are known as full-stop f-numbers. If you decrease the f-number with one full-stop, like ƒ/4 to ƒ/2.8, the amount of light that passes through will double. If you increase the f-number with one full-stop, like ƒ/5.6 to ƒ/8, only half the amount of light will reach the sensor.
There can be several f-numbers between the ones above — depending on what scale is being used. The most common one is a 1/3 scale, which means that every third step is a full-stop, and thus giving you two settings between every full-stop. For example between ƒ/8 and ƒ/11 you will find ƒ/9 and ƒ/10. This can be rather confusing at first, so here’s a short reminder:
A higher f-number = a smaller aperture = less light
A lower f-number = a larger aperture = more light
The shutter is what controls how long the sensor is exposed to the light. The longer the shutter is open the more light can be captured by the sensor. A fast shutter speed will result in “freezing” a moving object and a slow shutter speed will let you capture the motion of a moving object.
There is a scale of stops for the shutter speeds just like for the aperture, below are the full-stops.
1/1000 s 1/500 s 1/250 s 1/125 s 1/60 s 1/30 s 1/15 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1 s
And just as with the aperture, the shutter speed is often on a 1/3 scale, giving your two steps in between every full-stop. For example between 1/60s and 1/125s you will find 1/80s and 1/100s.
The two primary factors which control exposure are shutter speed and aperture. We will cover these things in greater detail in other lessons.
See [LINK TO EXPOSURE TUTORIAL] for an article on how exposure works.
The ISO speed (the name comes from the International Organization for Standardization) is a measure of the film speed, or its sensitivity to light. With digital cameras the ISO affects the sensor instead of the film, but the principal is the same. A low ISO speed requires a longer exposure and is referred to as slow, a high ISO speed requires less time to give the same exposure and is therefore referred to as fast. One step in the ISO equals one full-stop, so the ISO is not on a 1/3 scale — film can be found with 1/3 ISO speeds, but it’s uncommon in the digital world. These are the most common ISO speeds.
ISO 50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200
On 35mm film, a film with high ISO speed had much more grain than a slower film — but the modern sensors don’t create the same grain with high ISO speeds. Instead it creates noise. The digital noise is not as favorable as the film grain and can destroy a photo if it’s too visible (the same goes with the grain, but it’s effect was more subtle and often more liked).
If light is no problem, then always use a low ISO number but if you’re indoors with bad light or other conditions when you find the combination of aperture/shutter not to be enough the ISO speed can be a great asset. New digital sensors are constantly developed and the noise levels with high ISO speeds are decreasing with every new release.
Camera bags can be one of the most difficult pieces of equipment to choose. No camera bag is made to fit every occasion so I will here talk about some different types of bags and cover a few points to consider.
Choosing your next lens or camera is often quite easy, you often know what you want, but when it comes to choosing a new camera bag at least I can be confused and have a really hard time deciding. I will talk about different types of bags, and go into some more detail on a specific model in each category.
Shoulder bags make accessing your gear easy and quick, often a good choice for urban photographers. They come in all different shapes and sizes, many of them have the great feature of not looking like a camera bag, which is often appreciated since it attracts less attention from ill-willing citizens. I would recommend brands like Domke and Crumpler if this is what you’re looking for.
The LowePro Nova 5 AW does not fit the above description, it’s a rather large bag and bulky. I personally dislike shoulder bags because I’m not an urban photographer. When I take a bag with me it’s often because I go on long hikes for several hours and shoulder bags tend to be tiresome and not the best solution for my style of shooting.
I use the Nova 5 as a storage bag and it’s a bag that I take with me when I’m going to be shooting on one location and not move around a lot. As you can see it can swallow quite a large amount of gear, in the picture above I have 6 lenses (1 large, 3 medium and 2 small lenses) as well as my Canon EOS 350D with attached grip. Also stored in the main compartment are a set of extension tubes and several filters, in the front compartment I have memory cards, spare batteries, an air blower and other assorted stuff.
If you’re looking for a backpack with quick access, look no further, the LowePro Slingshot 200 AW is perfect for most situations. It’s small enough to not be in your way, and the “sling-feature” makes accessing your gear easy. How it works is that the bag only has one shoulder strap and you can flip it from your back to your waist with a single pull. LowePro also has a series of backpacks that have the same features but uses two shoulder straps called Fastback (the design is obviously a bit different but the idea is the same).
The Slingshot comes in different sizes, the 200 being the medium model and it is surprisingly roomy inside. It’s easy to rearrange the dividers and design your own interior, I have it arranged so that I can access all my gear fast and don’t need to open the zipper all the way. In the main compartment in the picture above I have 4 lenses (1 large, 1 medium attached to the camera and 2 small lenses), my 350D with grip and a set of extension tubes and memory cards. In the small front compartment I have spare batteries and some filters. In the top compartment I have a pocket book, a notebook, a flashlight and an air blower.
If you rearrange the dividers I’m sure you could be able to fit in 1 or 2 more lenses, but access might not be as easy that way — it’s all up to you to form your camera bag the way you want it. The bag also make use of LowePro’s Slip Lock system which means that you can attach extra lens cases on the outside of the bag.
I highly recommend this backpack.
A true backpack is a great choice if you go on long hikes or travel between photo sessions, as well as longer travels such as with airplanes. It’s not as accessible and quick as the other options above, but it’s far more comfortable and your gear is more safe with most backpacks (they often have better and more padding) and most backpacks have room for more equipment as well.
The company Kata that among other things make military armor also makes this backpack, the Kata R-103. This is a company that knows a thing or two about protection and how to keep your camera gear safe. And I must say, I trust that my camera gear is safe when it’s in this bag, the design is sturdy as a tank but still rather lightweight.
This is the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever used, non-photo related backpacks included. I have walked for hours with this bag and attached tripod on my back (total weight 24lbs/11kg) without actually feeling that I was carrying something. The design of the bag is amazing to say the least, you have a quick access zipper to be able to pick up the camera without opening the whole main compartment. Using this zipper you will also be able to access the storage pocket that is in the lid, this is where I keep my memory cards and spare batteries.
The main compartment is not as deep as many other backpacks, which means that most lenses will have to lay down in this bag, only smaller lenses will be able to stand up so to speak. This results in a bit smaller main compartment than most other backpacks, so this bag might not be the best choice if you have several larger lenses. In the picture above I have 5 lenses (1 large, 2 medium and 2 small), my 350D with grip as well as some filters. That is the content of my main compartment, in the lid I keep my batteries, memory cards, rain cover, remote control as well as some other assorted stuff. There are two smaller pockets on the front of the camera where I keep an air blower, extra quick release plate for my tripod as well as a flashlight and lens tissues.
On the backside of this bag there’s also a compartment for a laptop, up to 15″. This is a great feature that makes it easy to take your photo lab out on the field. When I’m not storing a laptop in this compartment I use it for documents or an extra sweater.
So all in all I think you will find that most, if not all, of your equipment will fit in this bag. And as I said earlier, it comes with a tripod mount to be attached on either the front or one of the sides. The R-103 uses Kata’s EPH system, which means that you can combine several Kata products and attach to each other to maximize your customizability and space. This bag is stated to be within the carry-on restrictions for airplanes, but if you plan on traveling with this bag, make sure about the size restrictions on your airport since they can vary quite a bit.
I highly recommend this backpack, it’s one of the best photo related purchases I’ve ever made.
Lens cases are designed to carry just one lens, and they are a great option if you want to take an extra lens with you when you’re shooting. Another great usage for these cases are when they are attached to either a camera bag or a harness of some sort (more on this later). Lens cases are also a great way to keep your lenses safe during travels, but be sure to use a case that fits your lens. There are so many different sizes and it’s important to get the best possible fit to avoid having a lens that rattles around in there.
A vest is a well-used alternative to a bag, it keeps all your equipment within arms reach. With its large and many pockets you can often fit the same amount of gear that you would in a small to medium backpack. Another alternative is the harness or belt on which you can attach several lens cases or smaller bags. This gives you more customizability than a vest and also keeps your equipment more protected, but a harness is often bulkier and more expensive.
Vests can be found in most photo stores (don’t know any good brand) and harnesses you should look into are LowePro’s and Think Tank’s.
For me weather cover is essential, as you can see in the picture above, all my camera bags comes with weather cover (lens case excluded). The two LowePro bags have their rain covers sewed into a compartment in the bag and can’t be removed. The Kata bag has a loose rain cover that can be taken off and left home if you like too, it even comes with an alternative silver side for reflecting sun, this side can also double as a light reflector which is a nice touch.
I would never buy a camera bag that didn’t have rain cover, but then again I live in a country where rain can come any day, anytime of the year. If I’m out hiking or taking a bike ride I don’t want to find myself hours from my home/car and nowhere to find cover, but if you’re not in these situations it might not be such an important factor for you. Choosing a camera bag is all about your needs, your equipment and photographing style.
A tripod can be a real pain to carry with you, and this is the most common reason why so many photographers leave their tripods at home where they do no good. There are several good tripod cases and bags, but I myself find these a bit bulky or unnecessary. I do one of two things, either attach a shoulder strap to the tripod and carry it without a case or attach it to my backpack. Just remember, a tripod will not help you improve your photos if it’s left at home, so find the best solution for you to be able to have it with you every single time you might need it.
This case study shows how lighting was manipulated to create the perfect environment for a fashion photoshoot.
Finding Perfect Model
Setting Key Light
Deflector, Reflector and Flag
Shoot Thru Umbrella
Big Octagonal Softbox
Tall Black Gobo (deflector)
Round Silver Reflector
Big Octagonal Softbox
This article in a close look at a project I recently worked on. Together with Stylist Natalie Svikle, we teamed up to create an fashion story that will be based on the way french woman dress. We called it L’Affaire Parissienne.
It took a long
time, before we found right model.
We needed someone very soft and friendly on the face, with cheeky smile that will bring an under layer to the shoot.
After about a week going through model books, we found Cathy from Compton Model Agency, here in Dublin.
She was sweet,
nice and most important for our project, she had that French quality,
even though she is not French at all.
She was the one we wanted…
Remember that the model is not only a pretty girl. She has to communicate with you very well too. In order to get desired look/pose, meet her before shooting to make sure that you are on the same page.
I wanted to create a natural feel to the photographs. I decided to use an Octagonal Softbox as main light source, on tcamera right. Setting it up close to model will give very nice soft light wrapping around her face. This is similar to light you might get from the sun shining through light clouds.
Following idea of keeping light natural, the main source will have to be placed just above our models head, and pointed a little bit down. Keep an eye on the shadow under her nose and chin, they can’t be too long.
After setting my main light, I thought that the background (even though it is white) came out in my test shot too dark. Also, the model was casting a shadow which I didn’t want.
I needed additional light in the back. A Shoot Thru umbrella was the perfect solution: it gives nice, soft light, with quite an obvious hot spot. I placed it on the left of the camera.
As a White Shoot Thru umbrella is a type of light modifier that has very broad range of emitted light, it will also brighten up a whole scene a little bit. We will take care of this extra light in the next step.
White Shoot Thru Umbrella’s used in the way described above will spill on the model, creating unwanted shine on the side of the subject.
First of all we have to get rid of light spilling on our model from Background Light. To do this, I used Black Gobo (a kind of flag used to block light) as a Flag and at the same time it helped me to deepen the shadow on the models left side. Creating nice contrast between the well lit background and the model’s left side, I gain more focus on the clothes she is wearing.
Everything seemed to be ready for shooting. But shadows created by my key light, under the chin and nose, were a bit too dark.
A Silver Reflector was the perfect solution. Placed just under the camera, flat on the floor, the reflector bounced light coming from the key light and filled unwanted shadows with soft light.
Everything was shot with simple (yet powerful) Canon 400D and kit lens 18-55mm @ 55mm. As you can see, even with low budget camera it is possible to get very attractive shot.
My white balance was set to flash, I find it easier than adjusting in Adobe Camera Raw. I used ISO 100 to get away from any possible noise, and thanks to f16 I could be sure that everything will be sharp in the shot (this is very important in fashion photography). Exposure time was 1/125.
Styling: Natalie Svikle
Makeup: Ciara Hanlon
Model: Cathy @ Compton
This post describes some basic tips to improve the quality of wildlife photography. Anyone interested in capturing more compelling images of animals will find it useful in furthering the development of their skills.
Why Wildlife Photography?
Getting Close & Keeping Steady
Practice Your Skills
Know your Subject
Nature has been one of the primary subjects of photography for over 115 years. The natural beauty that surrounds us in the form of landscapes, plants, and wildlife is a compelling subject to capture in still images.
But more than that, the experience of taking photography of wildlife is one of the most thrilling forms of the craft. There is something deeply compelling—almost primeval—about sharing a wooded glen with wild animals, gaining their trust, and documenting their beauty and behavior.
Wildlife is not the easiest subject to capture. It often requires larger, telephoto lenses, or if your interests lie in the tiny, macro lenses that allow for magnification and close focusing. Wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk—time when light is not always cooperative. Fast telephoto lenses are an option if you have a nice line of credit available, but they’re not always necessary. Today’s manufacturers have some more affordable, slower telephotos that can be used to capture great wildlife images.
In this article, I will share with you some of the tips I have collected over the past several years in capturing beautiful wildlife with my camera.
If you are truly interested in wildlife photography, you will need a digital SLR camera. Most of the point-and-shoot models simply don’t have the reach you will need to safely photograph wild animals, and ultimately lack quality when it comes to taking a half decent photograph.
A great starter camera that comes with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens. If you’re just looking to get started with Digital Photography, this is a nice starting point and won’t require a huge investment up front.
Essentially the same package you get with the Nikon D60, only from Canon. If you’re a Canon person, you may prefer this setup.
Another fine choice for starting photographers (includes the stock 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens).The additional $100 buys you several notable improvements from the XTi, plus an extra 2MP for slightly higher image resolution.
The D90 made quite an entrance into the marketplace of Digital SLRs after it was announced that it included a High Definition (720p), smooth (24fps) video capture feature. It’s a Digital Camera, and Video Camera that performs incredibly well for its price tag. No lens included.
This isn’t the camera you buy unless you’re really taking Photography seriously (and you’ve probably been doing it professionally for a while if you’re even considering purchasing). Oh, and it has HD video up to 1080p, though there are some setbacks. More research is suggested if you’re looking into getting this. Lens sold separately.
Animals are inherently more sensitive to the shape and form of an upright human being than they are to vehicles. You can attribute this to the thousands of years we’ve spent hunting them for food. The fear that animals have for humans is well deserved. Many wildlife photographers use expensive and complicated blinds to hide their presence from animals. In the right circumstances though, you already have a working blind—your vehicle.
Some more cautious animals will flee at the sight of a vehicle. Kestrels, for instance, flee at the sight of a car as much as they do a human being. But many species feel much more comfortable around them than they do people, especially in national parks where vehicles are a common sight, such as Rocky Mountain National Park or Yellowstone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to get remarkably close to elk in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Unfortunately too often, a tourist with a point-and-shoot camera comes along and steps out of their vehicle and approaches the animals. The elk shy away or bolt into the trees, and my shoot is over.
Stabilizing your camera inside a car isn’t often easy. You can set up some tripods so that you can shoot from the driver or passenger seat, but some wildlife photographers find the tripod too constrictive, especially when photographing animals on the move.
In those situations, your window is your friend. Roll up your window to the level at which you want to set your lens. Buy some cheap pipe insulation with a slit down one side at any hardware store. Slip this over the edge of the glass of your window and you can comfortably rest your lens on the edge. I have seen photographers use bean bags for the same purpose.
Remember the rule of thumb to eliminate camera shake: you should be shooting at a shutter speed at or above the effective focal length of your lens. That means if you shoot like I do with a 70-300mm lens on an Olympus body with a 2x sensor crop factor, you need a shutter speed of at least 1/600th of a second to help ensure that your image will be as sharp as it can be.
Tripods and the window edge trick can help lower this shutter speed, as well as cameras or lenses with image stabilization. The kind of blur we’re talking about isn’t always obvious when you check an image with your LCD. With this rule of thumb, you help reduce the chances of being disappointed with what you thought were great shots in the field, but turned out to be blurry or soft when loaded onto your computer. Don’t be afraid to increase your ISO to get the shutter speeds you need. When shooting fast-moving animals such as birds in flight, you may want a shutter speed as high as 1/1000th of a second to freeze your subject. And of course, proper technique in stabilizing your camera can go a long way.
Most photographer recommend that you use at least a 300mm (35mm equivalent) telephoto for wildlife photography (if you need to learn more about different kinds of lenses, this article can help) . Any less and you will have difficulty filling the frame with your subject. But no matter how much reach your longest lens gives you, you’ll always be left wanting more. Teleconverters can be used, at the cost of sharpness and f-stops, but for bird photography involving small subjects, they may be your best option.
Before spending a fortune on a photography expedition to Africa, hone your skills in your own backyard. My area of Colorado is rife with red-winged blackbirds in the spring. They can be found around nearly any body of water, and the males are claiming and protecting territory from nearly every tree branch or cattail. Their focus on competitors and attracting a mate means that their guard is down more than it would be at other times, and the cattails they often frequent are conveniently located at eye level.
I have found that red-winged blackbirds are an excellent “practice subject” to work on my skills of approach, framing, and general technical work (exposure, focus, and the general fiddling of knobs and buttons). They are common enough that if you blow an approach by moving too quickly or loudly, another will most likely present itself shortly. But they are not so easy to catch. Dark subjects against light backgrounds can be a technical challenge, and learning to expose the blacks of their feathers along with that red patch can really hone your skills.
Blackbirds may not be common in your area, but most likely, some form of wildlife frequents the parks and fields in your area. Find a good “practice subject” and work on your basics, so that when you go after bigger, more impressive animals, you will have a solid foundation in the basic techniques and you will stand a better chance of capturing a great image.
Get to know your subject’s behavior. Read books and talk with hunters or experts on the species. Your local university may have researchers who special in the animal you’re trying to capture. Politely ask them for tips via email—often they will be more than happy to share their expertise, provided you’re respectful of the animals.
Some knowledge you will only gain through experience. I’ve spent most of the winter travelling to Rocky Mountain National Park on a weekly basis. Of particular interest in this park are the herds of wild elk. A large bachelor herd is my favorite subject, but finding them in time for the good light was not easy at first. Over time, and through trial and error, I began to understand how weather affected which altitudes the animals could be found at. Colder weather or snow would push them down into lower elevations where it they were easier to find and photograph. Also, I learned which park entrances they were most likely to be near at the time of day I was photographing them. Other photographers in your area may be able to share this information, but I think if you can spare the time, it’s more fulfilling to learn their behavior on your own.
Speaking of parks, the local rangers and park staff are an excellent resource for learning the activities and whereabouts of great subjects. I often swing into the pay station later in the morning to chat with the rangers about how things have been inside the park. As amateur photographers, we’re not able to spend all of our time out there, but the rangers do, and they excellent resources at your disposal.
Starting out, I was content to capture any animal in focus, properly exposed, and decently composed. I didn’t care so much what they were doing in the image, so long as I got them in the shot and they weren’t just a speck in the distance. As you develop your other skills, however, you will find that the most compelling and successful images are one that capture an animal in action. It’s common sense, but often, we forget in the excitement of just being near the animal that that closeness is not easily conveyed through still photography.
Capturing action requires more patience than just getting the animals in the frame. It’s nearly impossible to approach an animal without impacting its behavior somewhat. They will often be rattled or cautious in your presence. It takes time for the animal to settle back into its routine, to forget that you’re watching.
Increase your chances of capturing hunting or feeding behavior by photographing at dawn and dusk. The golden hour is great not just for light but for locating wildlife as well. Many animals are nocturnal or at the least crepuscular, so they are on the move at these times. Being out half an hour before sunrise or an hour before sunset will help ensure that you find your subjects when they’re doing something more interesting than chewing their cud.
One last tip for capturing action with birds of prey was recently shared with me by wildlife photographer Vic Schendel. In his years of wildlife photography, he’s discovered that raptors often defecate shortly before taking flight. When you have the bird in your frame, and you see this happen, starting firing off shots, because you are likely to catch a much more impressive image of the bird taking flight than if you had taken a shot while it rested on a tree branch or telephone wire.
Photography is all about preparation. Instead of running into problems when you’re out shooting, understand some easy ways of tackling the more common problems you may run into!
Always, and I mean Always, keep and an extra battery in your camera bag at all times. You will need to change battery in the field sometimes and it’s important to be well prepared. It’s important to know that if you’re photographing in low temperatures your camera will drain the battery faster so always stack up on some extra batteries when your out in the cold.
Don’t buy cheap batteries, it will only come back to haunt you in the end. In most cases it’s best to buy the “official” battery for the camera. For instance I have both Canon and non-brand batteries for my Canon EOS 350D; my Canon batteries will last for approximately 5000 photographs (using a vertical grip with 2 batteries) while the non-brand batteries will last somewhere around 200-400 photographs (under the same conditions). This is a huge difference, and I can only say that I’ve learned from my mistake.
Unless you really need it, turn off the LCD. The LCD drains the battery like nothing else, just lowering the brightness of the display will add some extra hundred photographs per charge. The auto display feature should be used with care, if you really need it to be on, at least lower the time the photograph is displayed to the minimal time you need.
Changing lenses will leave the interior of your camera body exposed to the outside world. It’s important to realize that you should be very careful when changing lenses. Have your back faced towards the wind to minimize dust getting inside and try to avoid changing lenses in the most dust filled areas. If possible, only change your lens in areas that are relative dust free, such as indoors or in a car.
When you change lenses, do the following to minimize the risk of dust getting inside the camera:
Have your camera hanging around your neck
Take the new lens in one hand and take off the back lens cap
Unscrew the lens that’s on the camera and quickly switch lenses
Put the back lens cap on the used lens
If you get dust on the sensor, be careful — it’s very sensitive equipment. Some people choose to send their cameras in for a sensor cleaning while others clean the sensor themselves, choose which solution you think is best for you.
I personally clean the sensor myself. I use an air blower to clean the sensor, but it’s also perfect for cleaning your lenses and filters. I keep one in each of my camera bags.
If you’re using an air blower, don’t place the tip inside the camera body — always have the tip outside of the camera body. If the mirror would flip down the air blower might otherwise get hit and scratch the sensor.
I’ve never used anything directly on the sensor, just blown air onto it, but there are other methods — I guess I wouldn’t trust myself with most of them.
Lens hoods are often overlooked, but they can improve your image quality as well as keeping your lens protected. The hoods primary job is to block unwanted light from reaching the sensor and thus prevent glare and lens flare. Lens flare can destroy otherwise fine photographs, it’s unwanted and a lens hood is the best way to prevent it — unless you always want to shoot with your back towards the light source(s).
The lens hoods can also be used for protection. With a hood on you’re less likely to accidentally touch the optics. If you’re photographing kids or animals at close range this will also help you from getting unwanted smudges on the lens, because we all know how much kids and animals love shiny things. Using a lens hood when shooting macro is a perfect way to keep your distance to the object and minimize the risk of accidentally bumping into it.
If you drop your lens the hood will most likely take most of the damage (but interior mechanics of the lens might still be damage from a fall, a hood will not protect against that) and hopefully save the lens.
There is one occasion when you should not use a hood, and that’s when you are using a flash. The lens hood can cast a shadow on the object, which is most unwanted. You can angle your flash to bounce on another neutral surface to avoid this shadow if you still want to use the hood.
You will have to test your equipment and see if your lens/flash combo will cast a shadow or not.
Just like with batteries, always take more memory than you think you’ll need. You never want to find yourself in a situation where you are unable to photograph due to the fact that your memory card is full. I would also advice against deleting any photograph directly from the camera. No matter how large or bright the LCD is, it will not show you what the photograph really looks like (sharpness and such fine detail). If a photo is a complete failure, such as just black/white, you can usually make the decision to delete it right there and then, but if you for example think that the photograph looks blurry I would strongly advice against deleting such a photograph. Better safe than sorry — so bring extra memory!
Another quick note when it comes to memory cards, if you’re in extreme environments — deserts, north of the Arctic Circle etc — you should spend the extra bucks on a SanDisk Extreme III-IV card. Not only are they faster but they are constructed to withstand more abuse and have a greater range of working temperatures. (Obviously these cards are faster even under normal circumstances, so it could be worth the money just for the speed alone depending on your set-up.)
Infrared photography looks like nothing else. I’m sure you’ve seen some IR photos around the web, but maybe you don’t know how to achieve this special effect? Look no further, here’s a guide on what to think about when choosing your object, how to shoot and what to do in post-production.
Photography is the art of capturing light, IR photography on the other hand is the art of capturing invisible light — but the challenge comes with its benefits, IR photographs can be really attention grabbing and otherworldly.
First of all you need to have a D-SLR camera with a lens that can use filters. Then you need to purchase an IR-filter, there are a few out there and the main difference (assuming we’re looking at the same brand) is the range of wavelengths that the filter lets through.
The IR filter I use is the Hoya R72, all the IR photographs in this article are taken using that filter. I’m very happy with this filter, but since it’s the only one I’ve tried I can’t recommend it above any other one.
Another piece of equipment that is crucial is the tripod. With D-SLR cameras it’s impossible to take IR photographs without proper stabilizer. Sure, I guess you could have your camera placed on a table or a solid rock, but the best way is no doubt to get a good tripod. Since we’re going to be using a slow shutter speed, long exposure, the tripod needs to be very stable.
Different lenses handles IR photography differently, and in this case it’s not necessarily decided by the price of the lens — these lenses are not designed for IR photography and therefore some of them just doesn’t work very well in this field.
The Canon kit-lens, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, for example will create a hotspot in the center of the photograph as seen in the photograph above. This is an effect that only appears on some lenses. If you’re serious about IR photography you might want to consider purchasing a lens that works well with IR — if so, there are several websites that have lists of good/bad IR lenses.
First and foremost, you need to understand the concept of capturing invisible light, invisible to the human eye that is. The world looks totally different in Infrared, and there are a few things to think about.
A blue sky will appear black, or very dark, while foliage will get a distinct white color. This creates amazing contrast in the image that makes the photo ‘pop’. Due to the long exposure time, portraits and other non-static sceneries can be hard to capture, this is one of the reasons why most IR photographs are landscape shots.
You need to test and see what you can come up with; it can take a long time before you fully grasp the idea of capturing and composing with infrared light.
I would like to say something like “and now to the fun part” but in this case the photo shoot itself can be rather annoying and/or time consuming. Don’t get me wrong, IR photography is fun, but the way you have to shoot when you’re using an unmodified D-SLR camera is far from an optimal solution.
When the filter is attached to the lens you will most likely see nothing in the viewfinder. The filter is designed to block visible light and it does so quite well. This will result in two hassles — you cannot see what’s in frame and what’s not, nor can you see what’s in focus. The best way to solve the first problem is to set up your tripod and find a good composition before attaching the IR filter.
The focus distance is not the same for IR light as it is for visible light, so you will have to re-focus after the IR filter is attached. This can be really troublesome since you won’t see anything in the viewfinder, older lenses might have a special IR focus distance listed, but modern Auto Focus (AF) lenses does not have this. The best solution is to have the camera auto focus with the IR filter on, or step down the aperture enough to get focus the entire distance.
Now you’re set to go, but your cameras exposure meter isn’t working correctly so you will have to use manual exposure. Most IR photographs I’ve taken have had an exposure time between 10-30 seconds. With these long exposure times we not only risk getting motion blur but also heavy noise levels. The longer the exposure the more noise will be created, that’s not specific for IR photography but a general rule in photography. Use the lowest ISO setting to try and keep the noise level as low as possible.
What the outcome
will look like depends on what filter you used and how the camera
handles IR light.
If you use a filter like the Hoya R72 that I use your result will be heavily red/magenta tinted images. This is what’s called “false colors“, and it can be fixed in Photoshop, which is what I will show in this part of the article.
Open your IR photo in Photoshop. The first thing we want to do is to use a feature called Channel Mixer. Create a new adjustment layer and select Channel Mixer. You can now control the channels RED, GREEN and BLUE. What we want to do is switch the Red and the Blue channel.
Red and drag the Red setting to 0% and drag the Blue setting to
Select Blue and drag the Blue setting to 0% and drag the Red setting to 100%
You can also experiment with changing the Green channel or such as well, find a good mix for every scenery.
You should now have removed that heavily tinted red/magenta color from your photograph, but the current look might not be much better either.
What you want to do now is play around with the Levels and Curve settings, if you’re new to these adjustment tools you can always hit Auto and see if you like the outcome.
This was a very quick guide on how to change that false color in Photoshop, but there isn’t any magic number that works for all photographs — you will just have to test and see. Then again, that’s basically what IR is all about in the beginning, this is a technique that takes some time getting used to and it will involve a lot of not so perfect shots. Don’t give up — the results can be astonishing!
(I’m by no means talented in IR photography, these examples are very basic but hopefully they give you a feel for this style.)
About the Author
I'm a photographer in my early twenties, based in Sweden. Graphic design has always
been an interest of mine, and lately I've become more and more interested in the field of
typography. You can look forward to my series of tutorials on photography as well as
some on design and web oriented typography.
Hi I am Shuvo saha, make this for you. Be a photographer and enjoy your life.
Shuvo saha firstname.lastname@example.org